When it's cold outside, turn up the heat and make these melted cheese recipes. They're cozy, comforting food at its best. Each recipe highlights a different cheese that melts wonderfully.
The Sicilians are credited with the invention of arancini: fried cheese-stuffed rice balls that rely on the mozzarella typical of Southern Italy. In this Northern Italian interpretation, the arborio rice is cooked into risotto laced with sage, then formed into balls. Each one has a cube of Taleggio hidden in its center, just waiting to be discovered -- and devoured -- in all its molten beauty.
The old-school grilled ham and cheese gets an uprgrade: Broccoli rabe adds a pleasant bitterness, which is tempered by swathing each mouthful in the buttery ooze of Italian fontina. Fig jam and Dijon mustard bring sweet and savory nuances to every bite.
Open-face, melted glory: A hearty slice of toast is topped with a creamy bechamel sauce, then portobello mushrooms that have been roasted with olive oil and rosemary. Gruyere, known for its beefy, browned-butter character, is melted over the whole thing.
Tip: Grating Gruyere (after removing its thick, crusty rind) ensures lacy, even melting.
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Imagine the dream meatball sub, liberated from the roll and cloaked in porcelain-white mozzarella. As on a true Neapolitan pizza, the cheese here isn’t a cohesive layer but gently softened milky rounds that drape and stretch deliciously. The dish offers an uncommon simplicity and balance: fresh dairy -- a bit sweet, a bit grassy -- with the bright acidity of tomatoes and the richness of simmered meat.
Homemade pizza doesn’t get better than this: Press a simple dough into a pan; add your sauce, cheese, toppings, and more cheese; and bake. Yes, that was cheese twice: Sandwiching roasted eggplant and sauteed Swiss chard between layers of provolone ensures there’s no shortage of yum.
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This is like the world’s greatest scalloped-potato dish: replacing cream with a silken cheese (traditionally Reblochon) and adding lardons of crisp, smoky bacon. A splash of wine cuts the richness -- just a bit.
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French onion is the soup that put broth blanketed in cheese toast on the culinary map. Here, legumes and simmered winter greens demand a cheese with a lighter touch than traditional Gruyere’s -- like young Asiago. Each spoonful will nab a bit of savory broth, crunchy bread, and stretchy cheese.
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We may have saved the best for last, for what can compare to fondue? It's typically made from a blend of Swiss mountain cheeses including Gruyere, but pairing young Gouda with the traditional option delivers a version that’s tangier, lighter in flavor, and milkier. It’s a delicious dip for seared sirloin, cubes of bread, apple wedges, sliced fennel, and cornichons. Freshly grated nutmeg sprinkled over the top adds fragrance and a hint of spice.
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